Black finishes

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Chris Richards
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Black finishes

Post by Chris Richards »

I've been refinishing/finishing guitars for years always using cellulose or pre-cat cellulose. I generally don't have any problems UNLESS it's black it's always the case that you have to spend an age more sanding to get the finish perfect as black shows up the minutest defect, although it's not that which concerns me, it's the drying time, I always have problems with black finishes setting hard.

The latest guitar I've done I used black cellulose with a pre cat clear over the top and its been sitting a week now and is still very soft. I guess the question I want to ask is ; Do other people have similar problems with cellulose products for black? and if so what type of finish doesn't have this problem?.... It would be nice for once to do a black guitar and not be in doubt regarding it setting hard.

Thanks
Chris

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Randolph Rhett
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Randolph Rhett »

Timely question. I was about to try to make a black guitar along the lines of the Pat Martino Signature model Benedetto. I don't have access to any fancy spray equipment, UV cure lights, etc. So, although I have nothing to add to the OP, I would love to hear recommendations on getting opaque glossy black finishes.

I do notice that lower end guitars have a "black" finish that just looks like it was dipped in black ABS plastic, while others have a deep black finish with depth. I'm assuming the former can be achieved with rattle can automotive paint, but what would be the formula for a deep classy black? (Or are the differences in my head because I'm perceiving "quality" in more expensive guitars.)

Jason Rodgers
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Jason Rodgers »

Watching this, also. My plan is to use the General Finishes water based like High Performance or EnduroVar, as has been discussed in Chuck's thread. I was going to get a can of Liquitex water based acrylic spray to test on scrap.
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Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Sealing the wood, shooting flat black lacquer, and then top coating with several coats of gloss lacquer might give a black with some "depth". As always test on scrap to see if it's the effect you are after.

Todd Stock
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Todd Stock »

Universal tints can be added to anything due to the binderless formulation - I get black from a paint store close by, but Mixol in 20cc and 200cc containers is available on Amazon. Nice, dense black when added to lacquer, but suspect it will work with WB as it is what is added to latex for tinting. Might see if your paint guy and give you some to try in Enduro-Var. For lacquer, I add metallic dye like Transtint to 'push' the black when matching for touchups. Old shellac-finished Gibsons appear to use lamp black in the finish to get that black-with-note-of-gray color, so lamp black is handy to have in shop for coloring shells, lacquer, and CA.

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Dan Smith
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Dan Smith »

I've used Transtint black in nitro.
It took several coats to get it opaque, but it worked well.
I used Mixol in nitro for opaque, it worked well. A small bottle is only about $8.00
I had no problem with these getting hard.

Three years ago I used Deft lacquer in a rattle can. It is still not hard.
I polished it recently and layed it on a towel. It was stuck to the towel.
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Gordon Bellerose
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Gordon Bellerose »

I have just finished using Colortone pigment, mixed in Target EM-6000 for the base color. After a lot of work getting the color right, bindings clean, with no chipped out bare spots along the edges, I sprayed with Britetone water based lacquer.

I am just going out to the shop to wet sand, and buff the finish. I will take pictures when it is complete. I'm hoping to get that deep color mentioned.

I see Chris is in London, England. Is it very humid there? That would have an effect on how the finish dries.

I can only speak to water based finishes. I live in Canada, and our VOC laws make it very difficult to get solvent based finishes. I also like the fact that the water base products are easy to clean up, non flammable, and much easier on the environment.
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Chris Richards
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Chris Richards »

Thanks for the replies.... It's just a bit of a nightmare, black is such a difficult finish to get perfect and after spending days sanding the colour coat and now to have the lacquer stay soft is so depressing. It's over a week since I sprayed it and it's still soft, I think my only option is to start again as I can't see it setting hard now.

The weather was quit humid and very warm although the lacquer went on with a wet-look shine which I was really pleased with and no visible faults so I really don't know what the issue is, I sprayed some none pre cat cellulose on another project at the same time and that dried with no problems.

Out with the sander I think...Ugh!!!

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

Chris - you said: "I used black cellulose with a pre cat clear over the top"
You have used two different finishes - so there may be some incompatibility between the two - Have you used these 2 together successfully?
What are the 2 finishes - specifically?
Did you colo(u)r the nitro yourself, or was it colored by the manufacturer?

I think what people here are saying (without just coming out and saying it) is that if you use the same clear finish, and tint the base coat yourself, you have a good likelihood things will turn out fine. No possibility for incompatibility.
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Paul E Buerk
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Paul E Buerk »

I've had good results using water-based colors called "Faskolor", which I picked up from a local hobby shop. Apparently this stuff is used for painting RC cars. There's a good selection of colors available, including some that change in different lights. I've used it with water-based finishes, mostly Target Coatings.

To do the color coats, I mixed the color with the clear in about a 1:1 Ratio, then sprayed. I recall using their primer on a couple guitars, but also did without it on a couple others. A few coats of color to make sure everything is covered, then just sprayed the water-based clear over it. The rest is just like doing any clear coat.

I believe I was spraying Target Coatings PSL or USL at the time, but I know I also did it with EM-6000 and EM-9000.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Mark Swanson »

I have used the Feibing's Leather Dye to tint both shellac and lacquer. Tinting the shellac for the color and basecoats works fine, and then top coat with clear lacquer.
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Gordon Bellerose
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Gordon Bellerose »

I have now officially learned my lesson, and will no longer do painted finishes. :x

I wet sanded and buffed the finish on my guitar, and saw that the top coats seem a bit cloudy, for lack of a better descriptor.
It's almost like there are very small bubbles trapped in the finish, which on top of a black color, show up if you look at the guitar on an angle.

This is the third guitar that I have done in a solid color, and will be the last. I had the same thing with the last one too. Ended up sanding everything off, and starting over. I did everything exactly the same, and it worked out the second time around. I cannot figure out why.

My routine is like this:

Sand to 220, and then grain fill anything that needs it. Wait for a day.
Seal with blonde shellac, and fine sand again. Seal again. Wait for a day.
Sand and lay a coat of clear on the guitar. Wait for a day.
Fine sand, and go with 2 coats of color mixed in clear lacquer. Wait for a day.
Clean off the bindings, and go with 3 coats of clear. Wait for a day or two.
Fine sand and go with 3 coats of clear. Wait for a day or two.
Fine sand and go with 3 more coats. Wait for a day at least.
If I think I need it, I will put a couple more coats of clear, and then wait for at least a week.
Wet sand and buff.

Swear.
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Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

so, what you going to do Gordon?
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Gordon Bellerose
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Gordon Bellerose »

When I showed it to my wife, she asked me what was wrong with it?
I then showed her the angle view, and she said "Oh".

This guitar has been sitting on my shelf for a few years. More than a few; actually about 7 or 8 years.
I screwed up initially on the neck pocket, and had to replace the center section. I cut the center out, and replaced with new wood, and didn't like the look of the new top. I sanded the body down thin enough, and replaced the top with some flamed maple that turned out to be not so nice.
I thought If I am going to glue a top on, maybe I would make this one a semi-hollow, so I hollowed out the back portion, cut some sound holes in the top
It sat again for a couple of years.

I thought this might be a good project to learn how to do multi-layer binding, so I put binding on it.
Again it sat for a year or so.
Then I thought I had put so much work into this thing I should do something with it.
Thus, the black finish.

To make a LONG story even longer, I have two choices.
1. Sand the top completely off, and replace it with some very nice quilted maple I have.
2. Keep this one for myself. It's not terrible, just not good enough to sell.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

If my wife can see the defect, then I know it's got to be fixed. That's actually one of the ways I tell if I'm being overly obsessive about an issue.
Maybe your situation is the same.
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Chris Richards
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Chris Richards »

Thanks for all the replies. It does actually seem to be hardening off now...To answer one of the questions, I have used pre cat over cellulose before with good results so seemingly I've done nothing I haven't done before with this guitar, I'm suspecting that the weather has been the cause since it has been quite humid, I just hope when I sand the lacquer for polishing I don't run into any other problems. I'll post some pictures when it's done..Thanks again for all your help.

Chris Richards
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Chris Richards »

Well, unmitigated disaster, I started polishing it and felt that it was still soft, did some "exploration" and found that underneath the top skin the lacquer was just a "goo" so I took the plunge and stripped it all off and have started again...I could really have done without this as I have sooo much other guitar work... I'm guessing that the lacquer suppliers have got the wrong lacquer in their pre-cat labelled bottles. which worries me some as I may have been spraying something that unknown to me is too dangerous to use with a normal mask... I've exchanged emails with them but they insist that the stuff is good and it must be my fault. Why is it that suppliers nowadays can't be honest! everyone makes mistakes from time to time but if they'd told me I could have started this weeks ago and got the guitar back to the customer....Grrrr

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Black finishes

Post by Barry Daniels »

I had similar experience many years ago with a high solids cabinet lacquer recommend by the Sherwin Williams store. I found out that it was not meant to be built up more than about 3 coats. Applying my normal 12 coats kept if from curing. I learned that most paint salesmen do not understand the needs of a guitar finish. Guitar lacquer is different.
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